Possible rewritten title: “Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York faces extensive probe over alleged ties to smugglers of antiquities”

This is information that is not found on the notices that accompany the works in the galleries: by what means did they find themselves exposed in broad daylight? For two years, this question has been at the heart of a gigantic investigation carried out by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and its partner media. The Metropolitan Museum of New York would have acquired hundreds of works thanks to its links with traffickers.

Journalists examined the catalog of the American museum, one of the most prestigious in the world. They found 1,109 disputed items, having belonged to people charged or convicted of offenses related to antiquities trafficking. 309 of them are currently on display at the museum.

The Guardian, a British daily partner of the ICIJ, reports a very concrete case of work acquired fraudulently: the statue of Shreedhar Vishnu. this representation of the Hindu protector god guarded the entrance to a Nepalese temple. Today, in Bungmati village, the plinth on which the statue rested has given way to a large hole. Following the theft committed in the 1980s, the villagers gradually ceased to maintain worship around the deity. Ten years later, the statue was acquired by the Met. Shreedhar Vishnu was exhibited for thirty years, until a Facebook account, Lost Arts Of Nepal, finally revealed the true story of the work in 2021. The Met has since removed the work from its public collections. , and indicated that it could soon be returned.

See more

Catch up with the Louvre

To understand how a gigantic institution like the Met acquired so many contentious works, you have to look at its history. The museum, created in 1872 during the same decade as the Louvre, has long struggled to compete with the major European museums. A turning point took place in the 1960s: Thomas Hoving, the new director of the museum, wants to catch up. He launched the Met into a frantic race to acquire works. Over the following decades, the museum filled its rooms with treasures from Italy, Greece, India, Egypt and beyond. “There is not a single decade of all the civilizations that have taken root on earth that is not represented by a work worthy of interest,” the director would later write, proud of his accomplishments.

During the years preceding the mandate of Thomas Hoving, the Met forged links with traffickers capable of supplying him with major works. In the 1950s, the museum acquired a large number of works thanks to Robert E. Hecht.

New York"],"channel":["culture"],"page_slug":"new-york-met-museum-enquete-trafiquants-art-ancien","template_name":"amp-article","partner":["amp"],"slot_position":["mid-content"],"pos_instance":["1"],"slot_name":"mid_content_1"" rtc-config=""urls":["https://4d.condenastdigital.com/amp/content?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.vanityfair.fr%2Fculture%2Farticle%2Fnew-york-met-museum-enquete-trafiquants-art-ancien","amp-script:permutiveCachedTargeting.ct"],"timeoutMillis":1000" data-block-on-consent=""/>

In the 1950s, the Met began acquiring pieces from this US-born antiques dealer, who spent decades getting into trouble with authorities and eventually stood trial for smuggling antiques into Italy . In 1959 and 1961, Italian prosecutors accused Hecht issued an arrest warrant for him in 1973, which was later revoked. But the Met continued to buy items from him.

The Met has 800 works acquired from Jonathan P. Rosenanother trafficker convicted in the 1990s. Many of the antiques on display are related to Subhash Kapoorwho is currently serving a ten-year prison sentence for trafficking in works of art.

With the charges mounting, federal authorities have taken a closer look at the Met’s case. In 2022, US authorities seized 29 pieces from the museum’s collections. The specialized unit, under Assistant Prosecutor Matthew Bogdanos, seized Greek busts, antique tableware and bronzes from Egypt.

New York"],"channel":["culture"],"page_slug":"new-york-met-museum-enquete-trafiquants-art-ancien","template_name":"amp-article","partner":["amp"],"slot_position":["mid-content"],"pos_instance":["2"],"slot_name":"mid_content_2"" rtc-config=""urls":["https://4d.condenastdigital.com/amp/content?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.vanityfair.fr%2Fculture%2Farticle%2Fnew-york-met-museum-enquete-trafiquants-art-ancien","amp-script:permutiveCachedTargeting.ct"],"timeoutMillis":1000" data-block-on-consent=""/>

Of course, the Met is not the only museum to have built up its collections by relying on traffickers. For investigators and activists, these New York seizures are a first step but do not fix everything: in Nepal, a whole section of culture has evaporated to the West.

For further :

Read more:  The man who sleeps tigers sharks to protect them

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Recent News

Editor's Pick